Garden venues continue to struggle despite recent improved weather

Good autumn weather will not be enough to redeem a poor season for many historic and botanic gardens, managers have said.

Despite a recent improvement in the weather, a poor spring and summer coupled with the negative effect of the Olympic Games have meant the year will be a poor one for most gardens. Some are extending their autumn opening dates to try to make the most of the remainder of the year.

Barnsdale Gardens owner Nick Hamilton said: "The recent good weather has been welcomed with open arms. But when you hit August and you're 35-40 per cent down, you're never going to catch up. If we have an appalling winter again that will impact as well."

Great Dixter head gardener Fergus Garrett agreed: "It hasn't got better and the Olympics have had an effect because people have stayed at home. It's going to be a pretty miserable year. We're still 20-25 per cent down, which is the norm across the board."

Borde Hill owner Eleni Clark said the East Sussex garden is extending opening to attract more visitors. "The weather has been quite bad with a lot of rain and a lot of visitors didn't get the chance to see the gardens," she added. "We normally only open at weekends from the beginning of September until Halloween. This year, we are fully open throughout September and October."

In contrast, National Garden Scheme gardens, which include many gardens only open one or two days a year, are just five-to-eight per cent down.

Chief executive George Plumptre said: "The reasons for this are the loyalty of the visitors, because of our charitable status, and the localness of the gardens. The Jubilee and Olympics have probably competed with us rather than helping and for lots of people it has been tougher."


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